If there is one discernable point where Oliver Cromwell's star emerged from mere cavalry commander to driving force in the New Model Army, the battle of Naseby may be it. Cromwell convinced his commander, Fairfax, to move to an adjacent, more neutral hill, so as to encourage the Royalists to attack. Cromwell was so confident that he wanted to goad the Royalists, especially Prince Rupert, into a fight by giving them a better chance. This level of confidence was not misplaced. Cromwell's actions, as well as the actions of Prince Rupert, were to confirm their reputations. Rupert was the European shock trooper with elan and Cromwell was the disciplined English soldier and stern Puritan. At Naseby, both armies put forward their "A" teams with Prince Rupert, Prince Maurice and the King himself present on the Royal side. Fairfax, Cromwell and Skippon led the Parliamentarian's New Model Army. There would be no denying the superior force after Naseby.
The Battle of Chalgrove is famous mainly because one of Parliament's main political figures, Colonel John Hampden, was wounded in the action and died days later. Hampden was one of the "Five Members" that the King had tried to arrest in Parliament, setting off the war.
The action itself was little more than a skirmish, but brings out the differences between the two armies at this stage of the war. Royalist cavalry commander Prince Rupert was establishing his reputation as a leader of great daring. Rupert was also using newer cavalry tactics that relied on the shock of rapid and decisive action with horse, whereas the Parliamentarians were still relying on firepower and tighter formations with their horse.
Just three days before the disaster of Marston Moor for the Royalists, King Charles himself directed a rebuff to a prowling Parliamentary army under William Waller at Cropredy Bridge, near Banbury.
Waller had been observing the King's movements for some time when he spotted an opportunity to strike over the River Cherwell near the present day Oxford Canal as it passes through the village of Cropredy. The King had allowed a gaping hole to develop between his lead / centre elements which were near Hays Bridge and his rear which was more than a mile behind. Seeing his chance to bite off a whole chunk of the King's rear end, Waller pounced.
Having relieved the siege at York by out manoeuvering the Parliamentary Army, Prince Rupert wanted to engage Parliament's Allied Army. Rupert believed (controversially) that he had orders from the King to do so. The Parliamentary backed Allied Army of the Eastern Association, local Yorkshire forces along with the Scots under the Earl of Levin accommodated him between York and Knaresborough. Rupert was outnumbered, especially, because he could not get the siege-relieved forces at York to get the lead out until the last minute. The Marquess of Newcastle, who had held York through the siege, was against offering battle at Marston Moor, going so far as to remind Rupert of one of his past failures due to hasty decisions. Rupert prevailed, but even with the mainly infantry forces from York, Rupert mustered only 18,000 to the Allied Army's 28,000.
By July 1645, Royalist fortunes were on the wane and Lord Goring was using all of his strategic wiles to evade the confident New Model Army under Lord-General Fairfax. Knowing that Fairfax outnumbered him nearly two to one, Goring sent 3 cavalry Brigades under Lieutenant General Porter to threaten the nearby Parliamentary town of Taunton, probably as a diversion, in the hopes of dividing Fairfax's force. However, Fairfax caught up to Goring after capturing most of Goring's cavalry diversion betwixt Langport and Taunton. Fairfax came to the battle weaker than ideal, but still with the determination to break up Goring's force for good.
Roundway Down may have one the most dramatic geographical features of any battleground, bar the cliffs at Pont du Hoc on the Normandy coast. The escarpment that falls away from the back of Roundway Hill is a sheer drop off and was the scene of a desperate retreat that ended with many cavalrymen going over the cliff.
After the stalemate at Lansdowne Hill a few days earlier, Waller wanted a decisive engagement with the Royalists that were working the area, so he set siege on Devizes in Wiltshire. Royalist Hopton, who had been injured in an accidental gunpowder explosion after the Lansdown Hill battle, knew he needed help, so he sent Prince Maurice on a end run to Oxford to get more forces to come to his aid. Those forces, under Lord Wilmot and Sir John Byron, approached from Oxford and Waller met them on the sweeping expanse of Roundway Down with a numerically superior force. Waller had what he wanted.
In the summer of 1644, the Royalist forces were threatening London in the English Civil War with the Parliamentarians. The Royalists confidently blocked a Parliamentarian force near Winchester and forced a battle. They would regret it. The battle was a turning point in the southern campaign and suddenly stopped the Royalist pincer strategy on London by destroying the lower jaw of it.
This is one of my favourite local rides. The battlefield is highly accessible by bike and foot with multiple farm tracks and lanes. Additionally, this part of Hampshire is beautiful and the lanes and good "A" roads around here make it a great Sunday morning ride.
Touratech has announced
that its founder, Herbert Schwarz, got a 5,000 km test ride of the BMW
F800 GS through the African nations of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi
and Uganda 4 weeks before the launch at Milan. Lucky guy!
The really good news is that Touratech kitted the bike out with as
many Touratech parts as possible for the ride, so we should have a wide
selection of gear and gadgets for the 800 when it hits the showrooms.
I'd still like to ride it so I can compare it to my KTM 950 Adventure.